Five file for Grafton County District 9 representative race

By THOMAS P. CALDWELL, LACONIA DAILY SUN

Five candidates have filed for the special election to fill a vacant District 9 House seat for Grafton County, with two others waiting in the wings.
By the end of the filing period on Friday, the Secretary of State’s Office had recorded four Republicans and one Democrat hoping to fill the seat vacated by Rep. Jeff Shackett (R-Bridgewater), 30 days after he was sworn in for a new term.
Former state representatives Paul Simard and Burton Williams, both Bristol Republicans, have filed, along with Timothy Sweetsir of Ashland and Vincent Paul Migliore of Bridgewater.
Tom Ploszaj of Grafton has filed as a Democrat in the race.
Another Democrat, Joshua Adjutant of Bristol, was unable to enter during the filing period because he was not a registered voter. He plans to run as a write-in candidate after the supervisors of the checklist have added him to the Bristol roster.
Another Bristol candidate, Andrew Hemingway, plans to run as an independent during the general election. Independents cannot run in the primary election.
Simard, who describes himself as fiscally conservative and socially moderate, served as state legislator in 1972-73 and in 2011-12.
“I really enjoyed it,” he said, “so when I saw there was an opening that needed representation, I’ve got a lot of experience, and to send a freshman down there at this point in the term would be useless. They would just find where the cafeteria and rest rooms were, and it would be over.”
Simard said the burning question during his first term was whether abortion should be legal in New Hampshire, and he voted twice to make it legal. In 2011-12, while serving on the House Finance Committee, “we met seven days a week for three months, and put a lot of work into helping Health and Human Services, and trimmed expenses by looking for results. We were the only state in the nation that actually reduced expenditures, and I’m very proud of that.”
Simard also served on the 361 Commission that studied the Northern Pass hydroelectric transmission proposal and recommended burying the lines along the entire corridor. He sat on the committee of conference for medical marijuana, and worked out an agreement for the state to cover payments to the towns when Massachusetts defaulted on its obligations under the Merrimack River flood control agreement.
Today, Simard has his eye on Steve Vaillancourt’s open seat on the Finance Committee. “It’s still open, and probably the most important committee in the House,” Simard said. “I think I could do some good with the one year that’s left.”
Williams served 10 years in the House after having served as a Bristol selectman for 19 years and for 21 years as a water and sewer commissioner.
Williams said he ran for Shackett’s seat to see that District 9 had representation in Concord — something that was lacking due to Shackett’s business interests.
“I know my way around down there, and I know the people,” he said.
“The whole trouble with both parties is they’ve got to get together and pull together. There’s too much separation down there,” Williams said.
Williams said that, although he’s a Republican, he has voted with the Democrats when they had a better plan. “There’s got to be parties, no question about that,” he said, “but they’ve got to get together. Right now, we need somebody to step in and take over without dubbing around too much. I’d fit in pretty well.”
Sweetsir is running as an outsider, saying people are tired of politics and politicians. Although he is a Republican, Sweetsir said, “I don’t care what political party anyone is in. What I do care about is people and what ‘we the people’ stands for. Most people that run for office have their own agenda; I do not.”
Sweetsir said he learned in his unsuccessful run for Ashland police chief against Tony Randall that the popular candidate wins. “I started getting involved in town politics,” he said, “and I’m part of the zoning board of adjustment now.”
He said he wants to hear what his constituents’ priorities are and to represent them in Concord.
“We’re supposed to be the servants of the people,” he said. “I’m not made of money, I don’t live in a big, fancy house. I live paycheck to paycheck just like everybody else. I care about the people in the five towns of this district, and will listen to them... It can’t be so much what I believe in. What matters is what do they want.”
With a 13-year law enforcement career in Stonington, Maine, and Northwood, New Hampshire, as well as at the maximum security prison in Concord, Sweetsir supports laws that protect both police and victims. “I want it to be more of a common-sense thing,” he said. “Everybody is innocent until proven guilty, but if someone pulls a gun and gets shot, why are you suing the police officer?”
Sweetsir also worked for nine years at Freudenberg-NOK’s plants in Bristol and Ashland. He supports economic development that reduces taxes, but also wants to hear from the neighbors affected by development.
“On the zoning board, you have to look at every situation,” he said. “Do I think there should be a Home Depot or Shaw’s in Plymouth? Of course. When you don’t have competition, it allows them to monopolize the area. I support growth with common sense.”
Migliore is campaigning as the candidate who can serve full-time, bringing 14 years of experience as a business owner and 10 years of service on the Newfound Area School Board to the job.
He cited his experience as school board chairman when, after a 2012 change in state law, the Newfound District found its tax cap prevented it from funding the next year’s budget. He said he worked with the state Department of Revenue Administration, then-Sen. Jeanie Forrester, and representatives Susan Smith and Harold “Skip” Riley to overcome the technicalities in the law that blocked funding the budget.
Having recently sold his business, Migliore said he can devote full time to the work in Concord.
“This is not something one should take lightly,” he said of the House position, going on to say it “should only be done after developing some wisdom which comes from doing this sort of thing in one capacity or another prior to declaring one’s candidacy. On-the-job training is not a good idea.”
As a member of the Bristol Economic Development Committee, Migliore worked to forge a partnership between Freudenberg-NOK and the Newfound schools to offer extended learning opportunities that expose students to new areas of potential employment upon graduation from high school.
As the lone Democrat on the ballot, Ploszaj said he entered the race so District 9 would have a vote “that represents the district and not the historical party line voting.”
“Though I agree that the district would be better-served having two representatives, I do not agree that a special election, with the added expense, was necessary,” he said.
A registered Democrat since 1972, Ploszaj ran for the Legislature in 2012 and said his campaign this year seeks “to elect the person who will best serve the ideas and views of the voters and our district, not a political party.”
“All too many times, a candidate wins because of trending politics, popularity/name recognition or they ran the race by the book using rhetoric, emotional and scare tactics,” he states on his website, www.tomploszaj.com. “I am the candidate who would give the people the chance to have their issues and concerns heard in Concord, the person who represents the constituents, not party agendas.”
The primary election for District 9, which includes the towns of Alexandria, Ashland, Bridgewater, Bristol and Grafton, will take place Tuesday, July 18, with the general election on Tuesday, Sept. 5.

  • Written by Tom Caldwell
  • Category: Local News
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Marine Patrol's new headquarters gets high marks from boaters

GILFORD — More than 100 people turned out for an open house Saturday morning at the New Hampshire Marine Patrol's new 32,000 square foot headquarters building in Glendale.
"It was a very good turnout and there were a lot of positive comments," said Lieutenant Crystal McLain, who oversaw all the details of the building's construction as project manager.
She said that people were impressed with the boat maintenance facility used for the Marine Patrol's fleet, as well as the two state of the art classrooms for public boating education courses, one of which was closed off because a boating safety class was being held.
The new headquarters building includes office space, a dispatch center and a lobby for issuing boat registrations. Along with areas for training and testing boaters, the building also has a booking area and a holding cell, where violators can be held before being taken to the Belknap County Jail.
Ground was broken on the $9.38-million project in September of 2015 and it was completed and opened in late October last year. It is named the David T. Barrett Marine Patrol headquarters in honor of the man who was the director of the Division of Safety with the New Hampshire Department of Safety from 1993 until his death in 2011.
As part of the project the state also purchased an adjacent 1.4 acre lot where Glendale Marine had been located for $1,345,000 to provide additional space for the bureau's operations.
The new facility features storm water filtering by underground drainage, filtered roof run-off drainage, porous concrete, green spaces designed to capture and filter run-off, energy-efficient LED lighting, a modern and efficient HVAC system, and sun tunnels. The building provides ADA compliant accessibility.
The facility was built on the site of the former Marine Patrol headquarters which was acquired by the state from Goodhue Boat Yard in the 1960s. John Goodhue II had built the boat yard in 1950 and rebuilt it after it was destroyed by fire in 1960.
A 2011 study of the former building identified numerous issues, including serious structural problems, lack of ADA compliance, excessive energy costs, and poor drainage and run-off containment from the parking lot.
The opening of the new building last November enabled the state to close a storage facility in Belmont and the temporary headquarters on the old State School property in Laconia, where operations were moved to during the construction period.

Meredith speaker recounts history of Memorial Day

By ROGER AMSDEN, for THE LACONIA DAILY SUN

MEREDITH — World War II and Korean War veteran Master Sgt. Elliott Finn thanked Bob Kennelly, former commander of the Griggs-Wyatt American Legion Post 33, for his role over the last decade in organizing Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies in Meredith.
He said that Kennelly has stepped aside from his lead role in organizing the events to give younger veterans the opportunity to lead and deserves the gratitude of all for his efforts,
Finn thanked those who had turned out on a damp and chilly morning to take part in the ceremonies. “Your presence here is a true expression of Memorial Day, showing support for the ideas and values these soldiers died defending. We owe them all a debt of gratitude and we start paying that debt by remembering them and what they stood for,” said Finn.
Noting that the day is set aside to honor ''the thousands of Americans who answered the last roll call," Finn said that formerly known as Decoration Day, the holiday originated after the Civil War to remember the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in that war, the most deadly in American history, which claimed over 600,000 lives.
He said the origin of the practice of decorating the graves of soldiers who died in that war is traced by many historians back to Columbus, Mississippi, which was a hospital town, and in many cases a burial site, for both Union and Confederate casualties of Shiloh, brought in by the trainload. And it was in that city, where, at the initiation of four women who met in a 12-gabled house on North Fourth Street, a solemn procession was made to Friendship Cemetery on April 25, 1866.
As the story goes, one of the women spontaneously suggested that they decorate the graves of the Union as well as the Confederate dead, as each grave contained someone’s father, brother or son. A lawyer in Ithaca, New York, named Francis Miles Finch read about this reconciliatory gesture and wrote a poem about the ceremony in Columbus, “The Blue and the Gray,” which The Atlantic Monthly published in 1867.
Finn said that the first widely publicized observance of a Memorial Day-type observance after the Civil War was in Charleston, South Carolina, on May 1, 1865. During the war prisoners of war had been held at the Hampton Park Race Course, where at least 257 Union prisoners died and were hastily buried in unmarked graves. Together with teachers and missionaries, black residents of Charleston organized a May Day ceremony in 1865 which was covered by the New York Tribune and other national papers. The freedmen cleaned up and landscaped the burial ground, building an enclosure and an arch labeled 'Martyrs of the Race Course.' Nearly 10,000 people, mostly freedmen, gathered on May 1 to commemorate the war dead. Involved were about 3,000 school children, newly enrolled in freedmen's schools, as well as mutual aid societies, Union troops, black ministers and white northern missionaries. Most brought flowers to lay on the burial field.”
Originally known as Decoration Day, what would become Memorial Day was established as a national observance by General Josh Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic in 1868.
On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.
Former state Sen. Jeanie Forrester, now chair of the New Hampshire e Republican Party, also spoke, saying that it is important that future generation know the meaning of Memorial Day and the sacrifices previous generations have made to preserve freedom.


05 30 Meredith Memorial Day 1
Former commander of the Griggs-Wyatt American Legion Post 33, Bob Kennelly, was thanked for his role over the last decade in organizing Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies in Meredith. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

05 30 Meredith Memorial Day 2

Color guard of the Griggs-Wyatt American Legion Post 33 led the Memorial Day parade in Meredith. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

05 30 Meredith Memorial Day 4

World War II and Korean War veteran Master Sgt. Elliott Finn recounted the history of Memorial Day as he spoke in front of the town library during Monday's Memorial Day observance. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

  • Written by Roger Amsden
  • Category: Local News
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